Title: Demon's Day
Author: Selena Coontz
email: glacy1@ix.netcom.com -OR- Selena1782@aol.com
Category: X-File, Romance, Scully/slash
Rating: NC-17 Explicit F/F sex
Keywords: Scully/Other, Scully/Slash
Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to Chris Carter, 1013 and Fox.
Archive: Gossamer - others OK, but please tell me.
Summary: Scully finds more than she expects as a series of unusual deaths bring the agents to Texas.
Thanks to my beta readers, Margie Maggiulli, Maria Centrale and especially Radclyffe, who went above and beyond.
Author's note at the end of file.


A demon's day in madness kissed...
    Forbidden yet I cannot resist.
               --Melissa Etheridge


Demon's Day
by Selena Coontz

May 5th Northwest of Jacksboro, Texas

Knowing his horse's penchant for walking chest deep into a pond for a drink when the weather was hot, Jim Tracy dismounted at the edge. Sure enough, Pepper headed straight into the water. Jim watched the sorrel gelding's sides heave as he drew in great mouthfuls of water. Seizing the opportunity for a break himself, he pulled a can of snuff from his back pocket and put a pinch between his gum and lower lip. He squatted down on the ground in the shade of an elm.

Pepper, having drunk his fill, turned to walk out of the water. Jim stood and caught the horse's reins. "Did you get enough, boy?" he asked as he rubbed the horse's jaw affectionately. Pepper moved slightly and stuck his nose against Jim's chest nuzzling him. When he moved there was a slight 'chink', the sound of one of Pepper's horseshoes hitting metal.

Jim looked down. "What's this?" he asked as he bent to pick up the object. It was a gold-colored necklace of some kind. The heavy chain looked almost too thick for wearing comfort and the medallion was a good 3-inches across, engraved, but not in words Jim recognized. "I wonder where this came from and how it got way out here," he mused. Definitely not the kind of neckwear commonly found in Jack County. He turned the necklace over in his hands. It appeared to be some kind of locket. Very curious at what might be inside, he pushed the trip mechanism and it sprang open. "What the hell?"

Suddenly he was consumed with terror, fear overwhelming any other emotion. Horrifying images flashed through his mind until he discovered he was trapped underwater, unable to even tell which way was up. His lungs felt as if they were about to burst as he struggled to hold his breath for one more second.

"No!" his mind screamed. He had been terrified of drowning ever since a narrow escape in a swimming pool as a kid. But he didn't dare use the breath to utter the word. He thrashed and fought to find the surface as panic overwhelmed him. He couldn't hold his breath any longer and in defeat sucked in a lungful of water.

Calm returned as his life ebbed and the amulet slipped from his fingers into the water's edge.

*********************************************************************

Perrin Stockard stood, one hand shading her green eyes, the other resting on her bluejean-clad hip, surveying the surrounding countryside. Her long, light brown hair, shimmering with gold highlights in the late afternoon sun, was held at the nape of her neck with a carelessly applied rubber band.

Something wasn't right. Her brow furrowed slightly in concentration.

There was nothing she could really put her finger on, but there was something, a wrongness she could feel in her bones. Despite the Texas heat a small shiver swept over her.

Shaking her head to dispel the uneasy feeling, she turned and began walking toward the barn.

"Perrin!" Ranch Foreman Antonio Lopez called before he brought the old blue Ford F-150 pickup to a halt. Throwing it into _park_ he jumped out of the cab. "I just saw Pepper headed toward the barn without Jim."

"Oh, no! Where was he working today?" Perrin's mind swept to Jim's family and she sent up a silent prayer he was all right.

"He was in the north section. I sent him over to see if he could find that Brangus that's due to calve."

"OK. Get Juan and Ricky and let's go find him."

"Si, senora."

Perrin looked north and the premonition she'd felt earlier was back, stronger than ever. "Oh Jim, please be OK," she said softly.

*********************************************************************

May 9th 12:32 AM

Trinity and Tanya Colter were almost home, their 4-month-old son Shawn asleep in his carseat. They had spent the whole day in Mineral Wells visiting Tanya's grandparents and showing off their baby.

Trinity stole a look at Tanya who was leaning back against the head rest, her eyes closed, a slight smile on her lips. He didn't think she was asleep, not with that smile.

"Whatcha thinking about?" he asked softly.

She raised her eyes to his and her smile broadened. "I was just thinking what a nice day this was and how much I love you and Shawn and how happy and lucky I am."

Trinity grinned and reached over and squeezed her hand. "Me, too."

There was a loud POP and the pickup veered sharply to the right.

"Shit!" Trinity hit the brakes and struggled to keep the Dodge Dakota out of the ditch.

"What happened?" Tanya asked as the pickup came to a halt.

"I think we had a blowout," Trinity said as he hopped out of the truck.

He walked around the front of the pick-up and then opened Tanya's door. "Yeah, the right front tire is ruined. You'll have to hold the flashlight for me. It's pitch-black out here."

He got out the spare and the jack and began trying to loosen the lug nuts on the ruined tire. "Son-of-a-bitch!" he swore. "I wish the assholes who put these things on so tight were the ones who had to take them off."

He struggled with each lug nut using all of his strength. Although it was late and the sun had set hours before, it was still 80 degrees. Sweat ran in rivulets down his face.

"Dammit!" He stood and removed his shirt, wiping the sweat from his eyes with it.

Tanya watched him squat back down to finish the job and held the flashlight steady.

"No!" he shouted and leaped to his feet.

"What's the matter?"

Trinity began hitting himself all over and screaming in apparent agony. "Help me!"

"Trinity! What's the matter?"

But he was beyond hearing. She watched in horror as he dropped to the ground and began rolling, writhing and screaming.

Then he was quiet. Tanya approached, shining the flashlight on him. But before her scream of horror at the sight of what had been her husband could leave her lips, she was one-half mile above the earth and falling. Air rushed by her so fast she barely had breath to scream. She had no time to wonder how she came to be falling, the earth rushing toward her impossibly fast.

Her last thought before hitting the ground was Shawn!

*********************************************************************

May 12th FBI Headquarters

Scully entered the basement office just in time to see Mulder flip to a slide showing the remains of Trinity and Tanya Colter.

"Oh my God, what happened to them?"

"That's what we're going to find out. There have been three very unusual deaths occurring in less than a week a few miles northwest of Jacksboro, Texas."

Scully groaned. "Jacksboro, Texas? Isn't it hot enough for you here? Besides, I thought you needed to testify this week in the McGrady case."

"The defense has asked for a postponement and the DA says it's pretty cut and dried. They'll get it."

"Oh." Scully took another look at the bodies of the Colter's and her interest was piqued. "What's the story?"

"I don't have a slide of the first victim because his death was believed to be accidental."

"What happened to him?"

"He supposedly drowned in a pond on a ranch."

"And?"

"He was deathly afraid of water. According to his wife he wouldn't even take a bath; he always took showers."

Scully's voice held its familiar skeptical tone, "So, he slipped and fell in."

"That's just it, Scully. He wasn't in the water when he was found and his clothes were completely dry. There was no evidence anyone else was there yet his lungs were filled with water."

She knitted her brow, thinking about what Mulder had said. "What's with the other two?"

"Trinity and Tanya Colter. Going home after visiting family they apparently had a blowout. It appeared they were in the midst of changing the tire when they were interrupted. Trinity was found about 10 yards from their truck burned to a crisp. Tanya was found next to him splattered on the ground like she had jumped out of an airplane without a parachute. Virtually every bone in her body was broken. Their four-month-old son was discovered unhurt in the truck."

"Unbelievable. So when do we leave?"

"One hour."

********************************************************************

Jacksboro, Texas

"How near each other were the two attacks, Sheriff?" Mulder asked.

"You think someone attacked them? How could somebody accomplish such a thing and leave no evidence of a struggle?" Sheriff Joe Bonner was as down-to-earth as they come. A tall rangy man with thinning brown hair, he had been Sheriff of Jack County for eight years. Normally, the worst crimes he dealt with were drunkeness and kids shooting up rural mailboxes and highway signs.

Scully interrupted before Mulder could say _someone or some*thing*_. "It's not likely these events happened spontaneously, so we'll use the word attack until we have a better understanding of what happened."

The Sheriff nodded. "They were probably about a mile apart as the crow flies. Jim Tracy worked at the Double S Ranch and his body was found there. Trinity and Tanya were on the road on the western edge of the Double S."

"How do we get there?"

*********************************************************************

Double S Ranch

After entering through the gate, Mulder and Scully drove nearly a mile before the huge two-story ranchhouse came into view. It was made out of rock and blended in perfectly with the rugged terrain. There were two smaller houses about a hundred yards from the main house, a big white barn and three smaller outbuildings housing farm equipment, trailers and tools.

A Hispanic man approached their vehicle as they drove up. He appeared about 30-years old, had big, wide-set brown eyes and a friendly demeanor. Exiting, they showed their ID's.

"We're Agents Mulder and Scully from the FBI," Mulder said. "We're looking for Perrin Stockard."

"She should be back very soon. I'm Antonio Lopez, the foreman here. Can I help you?"

"We're investigating the deaths of Jim Tracy and Trinity and Tanya Colter. We understand Mr. Tracy died on this ranch. Were you present when he was found?"

"Yes, sir. Perrin and Juan and Ricky and I all saw him. He was on the bank of one of the ponds in the north pasture."

They all looked up at the sound of approaching hoofbeats.

"Here comes Perrin now."

The woman quickly nearing them on the chestnut mare looked completely at ease astride the animal's broad back. Stopping the horse with an almost imperceptible tug on the reins, she dismounted and walked toward them.

Mulder eyed her appreciatively. About five-six, her brown hair was stuffed up in a dark green Jacksboro Feed Store gimme cap. She had on jeans and a white tank top that showed off her figure very nicely. She looked strong and lean and had the hardbody many worked fanatically for, but Mulder doubted she had ever seen the inside of a gym in her life.

"Perrin Stockard?" With his left hand he showed his ID while he stuck out his right hand to shake hers. "I'm Agent Mulder and this is Agent Scully."

Wow, thought Perrin as her eyes took in Scully. She's gorgeous.

At the same time Scully gave Mulder one of her patented arched eyebrow looks at his eagerness to shake Perrin Stockard's hand. He normally just flashed his ID.

Perrin shook hands with both of them, reining in her imagination regarding Scully to focus on the serious reason for their visit. "You're here about Jim?"

"Yes."

"Let's go in where it's cool," she said as she headed toward the house with Mulder and Scully following. "Would y'all like some iced tea?"

"We'd love some," Mulder said with a smile.

A wave of cool air hit them as they entered the house.

"Have a seat. I'll be right back."

Scully sat down in an oak rocking chair while Mulder chose the beige tone sofa with a rose design. There was a dark brown Naugahyde Lazy Boy recliner and an old upright piano against one wall. The wooden coffee table with half wagon-wheels substituting for legs was one of the strangest looking pieces of furniture either of them had ever seen.

The room wasn't exactly ready for a spread in House Beautiful. While clean, there was an atmosphere of disuse. There was no TV, no books - no evidence anyone ever used the room. It looked like it probably hadn't changed in 30 years.

Perrin returned with tall glasses of iced tea. "I hope sweet's OK. That's the only way we ever drink it around here."

"Sounds good," Mulder replied once again looking her over. "Do you live here alone?"

Perrin was oblivious to his interest and sat down at the opposite end of the sofa from Mulder, drawing one leg up as she half-turned to face both of them. "Yes."

Scully took a drink of her tea. "This is delicious. I haven't had sweetened tea in a long time."

And that smoky, sexy voice, thought Perrin. She's got everything. "Thank you," she replied. "I live on this stuff." Setting her glass on a coaster she sat back and said, "You want to know about Jim."

"You discovered his body?" Scully asked.

"Yes. We had spread out to search, but we were still in yelling distance of each other. I saw him on the bank of the pond and called to the others. I checked for a pulse but he was already dead."

"Was there any evidence of a struggle? Or that someone else had been there?"

"A struggle? I'm not sure. It looked like he had thrashed around but there were no footprints except his own. He was on the bank and completely dry so we were shocked to find out he had drowned. Even though we were the same age, 32, I thought perhaps he'd had a heart attack."

Scully glanced at Mulder who hadn't taken his eyes off Perrin. She had to admit, the other woman was very attractive. She had an openness about her that was lacking in most of the people Scully was around that Scully found very appealing.

"Did you know the Colters?" Mulder asked.

"Yes." A pained look passed over her face. "I've known them both since we were kids. I even babysat Tanya a couple of times when I was 14 and she was about 4 or 5." She sat up straighter. "I want whoever's doing this caught," she said, her voice holding an edge of determination.

"Have you or any of your men seen anything strange, anything you can't explain?" asked Mulder.

"I haven't seen anything and none of the men have mentioned anything either. The day Jim died I had a kind of a premonition or something. I can't explain it," she said shaking her head. "Something just felt wrong," she said with a shrug.

"How many employees do you have?" Scully asked.

"Employees?" Perrin smiled. "I don't normally think of them in that term, but with Jim gone just Antonio, Ricky and Juan. Antonio's wife, Rosa, cleans this place once a week and cooks for me occasionally. Mostly when she thinks I haven't been eating right."

"Do they all live on the ranch?"

"Jim and his family didn't. His wife had inherited her grandmother's house in Jacksboro and they lived there. Antonio, Rosa and their two kids live in the smaller rock house and Ricky and Juan are both single and live in the frame house."

"We'd like to question them, too."

"Sure. I'll have Antonio round them up."

**********************************************************************

Nothing of interest was learned from the ranch hands and Mulder and Scully returned to the nicer looking of the two motels in Jacksboro.

"I think the key is somehow tied to that ranch, Scully."

"It may be, but we don't have much to go on at this point. I'm going to talk to the Coroner and see if there's anything that didn't make the official report."

"OK. I'll talk to the deputy who was first on the scene of the Colters' deaths and meet you back here later."

**********************************************************************

County Morgue

The County Coroner looked impossibly young to Scully. He had that fresh-faced look of innocence still sometimes seen in small town America and the stereotypical Texas name of Jim Bob Garrett. At least he hadn't asked Scully to call him Bubba.

"I was going to release the bodies to the funeral home this morning but when I heard you were coming I thought you might like to take a look. It's not like either one of them is going to have an open casket funeral."

Scully nodded. What would sound terribly coldhearted to Trinity and Tanya's families was just reality.

Scully changed into scrubs and joined Jim Bob in the autopsy room where he already had both bodies uncovered.

"Oh my God," Scully said when seeing the destruction of Trinity and Tanya's bodies. Trinity was burned over 100% of his body. Burned to the extent that objects like his belt buckle were melted into his blackened, crusted skin.

"And there's no evidence of an accelerant?"

"None. I checked for everything. I'll show you the list."

Scully nodded and turned her attention to Tanya. She looked like a smashed and broken rag doll. "How close to her husband's body was she found?"

"Three or four feet. She was still clutching the flashlight."

"Was the grass burned or singed?"

"No. And the earth wasn't disturbed any around Tanya either. It looked like she had fallen down, not hit with the impact indicated by the extent of her injuries. Of course, she wasn't skydiving so it's a moot point."

"I see she doesn't have any obvious defensive wounds."

"No. I went to the scene. There was no evidence of a struggle. You could see where Trinity had rolled on the ground, but that's what you're supposed to do when you're on fire. I don't know how he caught on fire, but Tanya's an even bigger mystery."

"Her injuries appear the same age," Scully said as she examined the body.

"Exactly. It's like all of the trauma happened at once. It doesn't make sense."

********************************************************************

Venture Motel Jacksboro Texas

"You're not going to believe this, Scully. I have to go back to Washington. They want me in court at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning."

"So McGrady's lawyers didn't get the postponement they asked for?"

"No, dammit. And you know what will happen. I'll be there at 10 tomorrow morning and then they won't call me until Friday at 3. I'll waste the whole week."

Scully sympathized. She'd spent plenty of time cooling her heels in a courthouse waiting to testify and this Texas case was right up Mulder's alley. Unexplained deaths and a good-looking witness, she thought, remembering Perrin. She tried to muster up a little jealousy but couldn't. She had liked her too. It wasn't often they met an attractive single woman who didn't fall all over Mulder. And Perrin had seemed completely unaware of Mulder's interest. Very refreshing. Bringing her thoughts back to the case Scully asked, "Did you get anything useful from the Deputy?"

"No. He even drove me out to the scene but there was nothing to see."

"I'll call Perrin Stockard and see if she can show me where Jim Tracy died. There probably won't be anything there either." Scully sighed. "So do you need me to drive you back to DFW?"

"No. The call from Washington came in after we got back to the Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Bonner graciously volunteered Deputy Houser to chauffeur me to the airport."

"OK. I'll let you know if I find anything."

*********************************************************************

"Ms. Stockard?" Scully said when Perrin answered her phone. "This is Dana Scully."

"Hi," Perrin said, thrilled to hear Scully's voice. "Please, call me Perrin. What can I do for you?"

"I'd like to see the area where Jim Tracy's body was found."

"OK. Do you have some bluejeans?"

"Yeah," Scully replied cautiously.

"Good! We can go on horseback."

"I'm not much of a horsewoman. I've only ridden a couple of times and that was years ago."

"Hmmm. Then I guess I won't put you on Screwball."

"Please, don't."

Perrin laughed. "Don't worry. I've got just the horse for you. Gentle as a lamb. Um, you don't know anything about lambs, do you?"

"Why do I feel I'm about to be taken for a ride, literally?" Scully felt good bantering with Perrin. For that moment there was no conspiracy; past losses were forgotten.

"Be here at 8AM sharp. We'll ride out there and when we come back I'll feed you lunch. Save the taxpayers some money."

"I can't argue with that. See you in the morning." When she hung up, she realized she was smiling.

*********************************************************************

Double S Ranch May 12th

Scully arrived 10 minutes early and Perrin met her as she got out of the car.

"Hi. Let me see you," Perrin said as she took both of Scully's hands and looked her over. Scully was wearing jeans, a light blue t-shirt tucked into her waistband and athletic shoes.

"Boots would be better, but I guess those shoes will have to do. Your feet are a lot smaller than mine. Come on inside and I'll finish getting you ready," she said with a conspiratorial wink.

Scully followed Perrin as she bounded up the stairs to her bedroom. As soon as she entered Scully knew that this was where Perrin spent her time. The room was huge, containing a kingsize bed, dresser, sofa, two chairs, entertainment center with a big screen TV, CD player and a computer.

"Amazing. I think your room is as big as my apartment."

Perrin grinned. "Yeah, I live in this room. My dad built this house for my mom and they had big dreams." Perrin walked over to her dresser. "Did you put on any sunblock?"

"No, I didn't and I can't believe I didn't think of it. I'll look like a lobster."

"Yeah, as fair as you are you will. But don't worry, I keep a big stash of it and use it religiously. I've seen too many old ranchers with skin cancer. C'mere."

Scully walked to the dresser, watching herself in the mirror.

"You're going to be hot with your hair on your neck. I'm going to fix you up right. Do you mind?"

Scully smiled in the mirror at her. "You're the boss." She felt very relaxed and comfortable in Perrin's presence.

Perrin picked up a hairbrush and began brushing Scully's hair, gathering it in back to make a ponytail. She is so lovely, thought Perrin. Aloud she said, "You have beautiful hair."

"Thank you." Scully watched Perrin, a look of concentration on her face as she smoothed her hair before binding it up with a rubberband.

"Now for the sunblock. May I?" Perrin asked as she picked up the bottle.

"Sure," Scully said, surprising herself. She often kept her distance, especially with people she didn't know well. But there was something in Perrin she felt drawn to. She wasn't ready to break the spell.

Perrin squeezed a generous amount into her hand. "Turn around and face me," she said as she took Scully's arm.

Scully watched Perrin's fingers glide over her arm, massaging the lotion into her skin. When she reached her hand, she rubbed the back and down each finger before turning to Scully's other arm and giving it the same meticulous treatment. When she felt Perrin's breath on her shoulder as she leaned forward to apply the sunblock to the back of her neck, a little shiver ran through her.

Oh my gosh, thought Perrin, her heart rate doubling. She trembled! Please, Perrin sent up a silent prayer to any deity who would listen. Please, let her feel something. Don't let this be my imagination. She squeezed more lotion on her fingertips, raising them to Scully's forehead and gently applying the sunblock. She slowly worked her way down her face, swallowing hard when Scully closed her eyes. "All done," she said in a moment, dropping her hands to her sides. She had to stop before she did something that could ruin everything.

Scully felt good. It had been so long since anyone had touched her except fleetingly. It felt wonderful to connect with someone physically.

"Just one more thing," Perrin said as she picked up a blue ball cap that read 'Double S Ranch'. She placed it on Scully's head and pulled her ponytail through the opening in the back. "There. All ready to go."

They headed back outside to the barn where two horses were saddled up and waiting.

Perrin led Scully up to a solid black gelding. "Dana...you don't mind if I call you Dana do you?"

"Not at all. I get called Scully so much I sometimes forget that's my name."

"Would you rather I called you Scully?"

"No. I'd like for you to call me Dana."

"Then Dana it is. Dana, this is Concho," she said as she patted the horse's neck. "Concho, this is Dana."

"I've never been introduced to a horse before. What's my response?"

"I think this is where you get on."

"He's so big. Does he come in a smaller model?"

Perrin laughed. "No, this is it. Can you get your foot in the stirrup?"

"I'll try," Scully said as she gamely tried to lift her leg high enough to reach it.

"OK, Shorty, I see that's not going to work. Here, step into my hands and I'll give you a boost up." Perrin laced her fingers together and bent over to make it easier for Scully to get her foot into her hands.

Oh God! She's got a beautiful ass, Perrin thought as she found herself at eye level with it. She's bound to be straight. I'd never be that lucky.

Scully put her foot in Perrin's hands and she lifted Scully high enough that she was able to throw her other leg over the horses back and climb into the saddle.

Concho snorted.

"I know, Concho," Perrin said as she scratched his forehead, "But she's really quite nice."

"Taking the horses side are we?"

Perrin smiled up at Scully as she mounted her horse. "Hey, I've got to live with these guys." She patted the chestnut mare's neck. "This is Libby. She's my horse now. Concho was but I retired him a couple of years ago and now I just use him as a babysitter." She grinned.

"I think I've just been insulted but I'm far too high off the ground to get snippy." Scully smiled back at her.

"OK, let's go. You won't have to do much. Concho will just follow along."

They walked the horses out of the barn, then headed out side by side on a well-worn path.

The sky was deep blue, crystal clear, and Scully found herself enjoying the rugged scenery. A lot of the land had been cleared for pasture, but even in those areas some trees remained and spring rains had brought a sea of wildflowers. Portions of the land left in their natural state were wooded with post oaks, elms and mesquites. And rocks. Lots and lots of rocks.

"I see where your dad got the rocks for the house," Scully said sardonically.

"Yeah, there's even one place where he made a rock fence. But no matter how many you pick up another one's waiting to pop out of the ground. So tell me, how did you decide on a career in the FBI?"

"I wanted to make a difference. Make the world a little safer by using my forensics skills to catch the bad guys." Scully smiled a little wistfully. "It hasn't exactly worked out as planned."

"Are you unhappy?"

"I wouldn't say I'm unhappy, but I can't say that I'm happy. Mulder and I have seen and been through a lot the last five years. Happiness doesn't seem to be part of the job description." She reached down and patted Concho on the neck. "But I'd do the same thing again." She raised her eyes back to Perrin. "How about you? Did you ever consider doing anything besides ranching?"

"Nope. My mom and dad planned on having a houseful of kids, several of them boys, to grow up and run the ranch. But my mom died right after I turned two and my dad was devastated. He never remarried, so there were never any more kids. I was it and it was ingrained in me from the age of two that this place would someday be mine."

"Are you lonely?" Scully asked, catching the hint of pain in Perrin's response.

"Sometimes," she smiled a little wistfully. "Often, actually. But I don't normally admit it."

"Me, too. On both counts," Scully confessed. "It must be nice though, to have such roots. My dad was career Navy and we moved all of the time."

"Yeah, while you were out seeing the world it was a major treat for me to go to Fort Worth about once a year," Perrin said with a laugh. "I think we have one of those 'the grass is always greener' scenarios."

"Sounds like it," Scully agreed.

Perrin cast surreptitious glances at Scully at every opportunity, her attraction growing with every look, every word Scully spoke. Dana looked so cute, her ponytail bobbing up and down in sync with Concho's steps. It had been so long since Perrin had had anyone to call her own, she found herself falling for the FBI agent very hard. You're headed for heartbreak city, she told herself. But she was going to have to take that risk. The chance that Dana might have feelings for her was too wonderful to pass up.

"See that pond over there?" she said, becoming serious. "That's where we found him."

They rode close to the pond and dismounted. Perrin tied the two horses to a tree and pointed out to Scully where Jim's body was found. "He was right here."

"Which was was he facing?"

"This way," Perrin said, indicating his head had been away from the water. "How can a person drown but pull themselves out of the water? And he was completely dry. You know bluejeans, if they get wet they stay damp for a good while."

"Yeah." Scully knelt down under the same elm Jim had used for shade and examined the area closely. Half of the pond was covered with lilypads and tiny peeper frogs were hidden in the damp earth at the edge. "There doesn't seem to be anything to see here that has any bearing on his death. But this is beautiful."

Dragonflys, with their gorgeous, iridescent bodies flitted over the water, while a turtle broke the surface and cast curious eyes at the interlopers in its midst.

A peaceful, pleasant comraderie settled over them and they sat, enjoying the show nature was putting on all around them.

I haven't felt this good in ages, thought Scully. Beautiful surroundings, beautiful company. She stole a look at Perrin who turned to face her.

"I'm not happy about the circumstances of our meeting, but I'm glad to have met you," Perrin said softly.

"I'm glad to have met you too," Scully said with a warm smile.

Perrin fought for self-control. Her impulsive side urged her to lean over and kiss Scully. Don't blow this Perrin Marie Stockard, she said to herself. You're thinking very dangerous thoughts. She cleared her throat. "Do you have any idea what happened to Jim and the Colters?" she asked after a moment.

"Nothing that would actually tie them together. Their deaths were so diverse." Scully shook her head and looked at the water's edge. The trees created a latticework of sun and shadow on the water, but something reflecting the sunlight caught her eye. "What's that?" she said leaning forward.

Perrin pulled up by her to see what Scully was looking at just as Scully reached into the water and grasped the amulet, pulling it out.

"What the hell?" Perrin exclaimed.

********************************************************************

"Do you know what it is?" Scully asked, turning the amulet over in her hands.

"No," Perrin replied. "It looks really old." She took the amulet from Scully to examine it more closely and was surprised by its heft. "Man, if this is real gold, it's worth a lot of money. It must weigh nearly half a pound."

"Turn it over and look at the markings on it," Scully instructed. "That's Latin."

Perrin rubbed her fingertips over the engraved words. "Do you know what it says?"

"Let me see." Scully studied the amulet. "It looks like a warning. Beware..that which is..contained. By..Solomon's Seal the...demon of..terrible deaths is...held..within."

"The demon of terrible deaths? That fits what's happened, but could there really be such a thing?" Perrin asked.

"I don't know. Has anything similar ever been found around here?"

"Not that I'm aware of."

"This is a religious artifact," said Scully, "and from the look of it, quite old."

Perrin snapped her fingers. "I know who we can show it to. Father Junger. He's the priest up in Windthorst. He's an avid student of Church history and has an extensive library. It's at least a place to start."

Scully nodded in agreement. "Let's go see him."

**********************************************************************

Windthorst, Texas

"A cow?" Scully remarked upon seeing the statue as they drove into Windthorst.

"Hey, not just any cow, but the best milk cow to come from these parts." Perrin grinned at Scully. "You just have to keep your priorities straight."

"Ohhh-K." Scully smiled back at Perrin. It felt comfortable to be in the company of this woman. Even the clean scent of the soap she used pleased Scully. There was a connection growing between them that Scully found she really liked.

"We're here," Perrin said as she pulled up in front of the church.

"This town is big on tributes, isn't it?" Scully remarked as she viewed the scene in front of the church.

"God and cows, all we need is an oil well and a football to complete the picture."

They walked around to the living quarters and Perrin knocked on the door.

Father Junger answered. At 5'10" tall and 260 pounds, his bright blue eyes and curly gray hair made him resemble a beardless Santa Claus. "Perrin! How nice to see you again. Who's your friend?"

"Hello, Father. I'm Special Agent Dana Scully," she said as she showed him her badge.

"She's here investigating the deaths of Jim and the Colters."

"Oh, yes. What a tragedy for both families. How may I help you?"

"We found this at the site of Mr. Tracy's death," Scully said as she showed Father Junger the amulet. "Perrin thought you might be able to determine its history and authenticity."

"Oh my," he said as he took the amulet from Scully. "You found this on your ranch?" he asked Perrin.

"Yes. Dana found it in the water right by where Jim died."

"The inscription is a warning about what's inside," Scully said.

He shook his head, disbelieving his own hunch as to what it was. "This looks old. I'll have to do some research. Can you leave it with me?"

"Yes. Here's my card with my cell phone number, or if you can't reach me, call Perrin. We'll be in touch."

*****************************************************************

Double S Ranch

"I'm starving and I recall you promising me lunch," Scully said as they drove through the gate at the Double S.

"Yes, I did," Perrin responded, not believing her good fortune. She had feared Dana would feel the need to go back to town right away. "Have you ever had empanadas? They're a kind of meat pie. Rosa made some yesterday and they're real good. I thought we'd have those and some salad."

"Sounds wonderful. All of this fresh air and horseback riding has made me both sore and hungry."

"Found some muscles you're not used to using, huh?"

"You might say that. Now I know why cowboys walk funny."

Perrin laughed. "I see you are a very astute investigator, Agent Scully." She parked her pickup in front of the house and they went into the kitchen. She got the empanadas warming in the oven and retrieved salad fixings from the fridge.

"Can I cut the tomato up for you?" Scully asked.

"Sure," Perrin said, handing her a knife.

"May I ask you a question?" Scully asked. "Perrin is an unusual name. I like it. Does it have special significance?"

"Yeah, it's the name of a town not too far from here. It's where my mom was from. I've always been glad she wasn't from Antelope."

Scully smiled. "Yes, I suppose it could have been much worse." She caught herself staring as Perrin removed the empanadas from the oven and put them on a plate. She felt something stir within her. She hadn't felt this attraction, this connection to another human being in a long time. Shaking her head slightly in bewilderment at the turn her thoughts had taken, Scully raised herself from her reverie in time to catch Perrin returning her stare.

Realizing Scully was watching, Perrin searched for safer ground. "I have tea, water or beer," she said as she set the table for the two of them.

"Tea is fine."

Perrin poured tall glasses of iced tea for both of them and they sat down to eat. Scully sat at the end of the table, with Perrin just around the corner from her.

"These are delicious," Scully said after her first bite of the empanada.

"Yeah, Rosa's mother is from Argentina so she knows how to make dishes from North, South and Central America. I keep telling her she needs to open up a restaurant."

"Mulder and I do so much eating on the road that an unusual home cooked meal like this is quite a treat."

"So, tell me about Mulder. I saw you looking at him when he was looking at me. Are you two a couple?"

Scully smiled. "No, Mulder and I are definitely not a couple. He's way too wrapped up in his search for the Truth with a capital 'T' to have anything left for someone else. I was just amused by his eagerness to shake your hand. But how about you? Mulder's a good-looking guy. Most women we meet fall for him bigtime."

"Mulder's not the partner I'm interested in," Perrin said, keeping her gaze steady, searching Scully's face for an indication of her feelings.

Scully felt a warm rush that pooled deep in her belly upon hearing those words. "Oh." She swallowed, but returned Perrin's gaze.

"Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?" Perrin asked.

"No," Scully said softly, feeling her arousal quicken.

They regarded one another for a long moment before Perrin said, "I want to kiss you."

Their eyes remained locked as Perrin moved closer. Emboldened by Scully's non-retreat, Perrin slowly closed the distance between them. She wanted to give Scully every opportunity to back out if she wanted.

Scully watched Perrin move toward her. One word from her would stop it. Her heart pounded in her chest, her desire and attraction for another woman waging war with her traditionalist thinking. A kiss...just a kiss... She didn't move.

Perrin realized she was holding her breath and let out a little puff of air as the fear inside her melted and coalesced into a hard knot of desire.

"Dana," she whispered as her eyes closed and she softly touched her lips to Scully's.

Scully watched the hope, fear and desire play over Perrin's face and recognized the same emotions coursing through her own body. As Perrin's lips touched hers, she was surprised by their softness. She felt the tip of Perrin's tongue gently search for entrance and her apprehensions faded as she allowed her in.

Perrin used her tongue to tease Scully, to try to show her what she wanted to do to her. She sucked on her lower lip and ran her tongue in easy circles over it. Scully let out a little moan and Perrin's ardor multiplied.

Their kisses became harder, both exploring the other's mouth. Arms encircled necks and held the other in place. Breathless, they broke apart and Perrin trailed her mouth to Scully's ear. Nipping and licking it, she felt a shudder pass over Scully. "Let's go upstairs."

"But, I'm not....I've never...."

Perrin shook her head at Scully. "It doesn't matter," she said softly. "You don't have to be anything. I just want to love you." She brought her lips back to Scully's and kissed her gently, easing her tongue back into Scully's mouth as her hand came up and squeezed her breast, pinching her nipple just enough to send a delectable tremor through Scully.

"MMMmmm," Scully groaned at the onslaught of delicious feelings rushing over her and intensified their kiss.

"Come on," Perrin urged, breaking free. She took both of Scully's hands in hers and pulled slightly, coaxing her up.

Scully rose and Perrin stepped in close, bringing Scully against her body. "I want you so much," Perrin whispered as she kissed her thoroughly.

The throb between Scully's legs was quickly turning into an ache. The best kind of ache.

Stepping back slightly, Perrin nervously asked, "How do you feel?" hoping against hope that Scully was strong enough to accept the testimony her body was giving. She searched Scully's eyes for an answer.

"A little scared, but very aroused," Scully answered honestly.

Perrin smiled in relief. "Oh chica, I can take care of both of those things. C'mon."

They walked out of the kitchen and up the stairs holding hands.

Perrin shut her bedroom door and led Scully over to the bed. She pulled Scully's t-shirt free of her waistband and ran her hand up under it, caressing the skin on her stomach. "Dana...."

"Kiss me," Scully ordered, most comfortable in that transitional moment with what she had already experienced with Perrin.

Perrin brought her lips to Scully's and was pleased by the way Dana took immediate control of the kiss. Scully swirled her tongue around Perrin's mouth, giving her a little of the same teasing treatment that she had been subjected to a few minutes earlier.

Perrin pulled Scully against her, wedging one leg between Scully's while trapping one of Scully's legs between hers. "I want your clothes off," Perrin said breathlessly as she tugged Scully's t-shirt up and over her head.

Scully stood still while Perrin unclasped her bra. She watched Perrin's face as her breasts were revealed. She looked like she was unveiling the most precious of treasures and Scully's heart blossomed at the thought. Has anyone ever looked at me with that awe and wonder, she asked herself.

Perrin grabbed her own t-shirt, quickly pulled it off, and reached behind herself to undo her bra. Scully placed her hands on Perrin's arms stopping her. "Allow me," she said huskily.

Perrin dropped her arms back to her sides and looked at Scully in joyful surprise, not quite believing this was happening.

Scully inched closer to reach behind Perrin and undid her bra, easing it down her arms and off of her breasts. "You're lovely," she said.

"Oh Dana, you're going to make me come before I even get my clothes off," Perrin said hoarsely. "Come here," she said as she unbuttoned and unzipped Scully's jeans. She dipped her hand down the open front of Scully's pants and felt her soaked panties. "Oh my God!" She pulled Scully back into a heated kiss, thrusting her tongue deep into her mouth while their breasts melded into a blazing pile of hot flesh.

Scully was overcome with wanting, feeling her wetness trickle from her body. She reached down to unfasten Perrin's jeans as they kissed.

Breathless and gasping, they broke apart, pulling off their shoes and the rest of their clothing, leaving everything in a heap on the floor.

Naked, they walked back into each other's arms, their bodies meshing together in a sea of softness.

Perrin pulled the rubberbands from their hair and pushed Scully back to the bed, sliding in next to her. "I've never wanted anyone so much in my entire life," she told Scully.

"Oh yeah?" Scully's eyes sparkled, "Well, I'm kind of feeling the same way myself."

Perrin looked at Scully and thought her heart would burst. "I'm going to make you come, and come, and come," she vowed.

"Yes," whispered Scully, desire making her weak. "Please, touch me."

Perrin lowered her lips to Scully's once more, sealing her promise with a kiss. She crawled on top of her, wedging one leg between Scully's and dropped her mouth to her breasts. She sucked on one nipple while rolling the other between her thumb and forefinger.

Scully moaned and arched herself into Perrin's mouth and hand. "Oh God, Perrin."

Perrin raised her head and looked at Scully with an anquished expression. "I'm sorry Dana, I can't wait. I was going to try and draw this out as long as I could, but I have to have you now."

"Do it. Please. I can't wait either."

Perrin slid down Scully's body and spread her legs wide, ensconsing herself fully between them.

She's going to do it, Scully thought. This is really me making love with another woman!

And then she felt her. Perrin nuzzled into her, inhaling her like she was the breath of life. Oh sweet Jesus, thought Scully, this has never felt this good before. Her hips bucked up against Perrin's mouth, who just held on tighter. She continued to nuzzle into Scully, sometimes sucking lightly on her clit, other times her tongue running in exquisite circles over it.

"Oh Perrin, I'm going to come!" Scully warned.

This just inflamed Perrin more, who wanted nothing else but for Scully to explode. She moaned in sympathy, the vibrations carrying through her mouth to Scully's clit. She brought one hand to Scully's opening, lubricating her fingers in the wetness before pushing first one, and then two fingers into her.

Scully's groan of approval became a sharp keening as Perrin reached up with her other hand at that perfect moment of climax and squeezed her nipple.

"Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!!" She thrust hard against Perrin's mouth, the triple sensation sending her completely out of control.

Perrin rode the contractions with her, not slowing down until she felt Scully begin to relax.

"Oh chica," Perrin said as she raised her head and looked at Scully. "That was fabulous."

"Fabulous doesn't even come close," Scully groaned still trying to catch her breath. She tugged on Perrin's arm, pulling her up to face her. Their eyes met and Scully guided Perrin's mouth to her own. They kissed deeply, wonderfully. Scully tasted herself on Perrin's lips and tongue as she sucked hard on it, wanting to draw it far inside her. Wanting Perrin to realize the enormity of her arousal and happiness.

Perrin's hands played with Scully's breasts while they kissed, squeezing and kneading, teasing and pinching.

"Oh God, I'm not through," Scully said, Perrin's hands and mouth taking her right back to a fever-pitch state of arousal.

Perrin smiled at her. "Good. Because I'm certainly not through with you. Maybe this time I can do it right."

"If it gets any righter than last time, I don't know if I can survive it."

"You'll live. I promise," Perrin's warm breath whispered in Scully's ear, sending shivers down her body. Her tongue followed her breath into Scully's ear, the almost ticklish sensation making Scully acutely aware of her responsiveness to everything Perrin had done.

"You've got me so turned on. You make me feel so good, so beautiful."

"You are beautiful, Dana. How could you not know that?"

Scully shook her head slightly at Perrin and gave her a little self-conscious smile.

"I'll show you how beautiful you are." Perrin covered her face with light kisses before returning to her lips. There she kissed her with an intensity that Scully felt all the way down to her toes. She gasped for breath as Perrin kissed and licked her way to her neck. She sucked and nipped lightly so as not to leave lasting marks, but thrilling Scully all the same. She caught Scully's arm and lifted it above her head as she trailed her lips across her collarbone. She ran her tongue across her underarm, concentrating on the salty taste of her sweat.

She's licking my underarm, Scully thought wildly. No one's ever done that to me before. But as her shock subsided she realized how good and sensuous and intimate it felt. She did feel beautiful. Perrin was not turned off by any part of her body.

Perrin brought her mouth back to Scully's breasts where she began a slow, exquisite assault. She took as much of Scully's breast into her mouth as possible and lightly nursed on it before gradually licking her way to her nipple.

Scully whimpered with excitement. There seemed to be a direct line from Perrin's mouth to Scully's center. She spread her legs wider and began easy thrusts against Perrin's body, unable to stop herself. Seeking, needing the stimulation.

Perrin continued her assault on Scully's breasts as she moved to the other one. She brought one hand up to tease the breast her mouth had just left while she tangled the other in Scully's hair.

Slowly, slowly, she licked and kissed her way down Scully's stomach. Stopping to torment her navel before moving on to the hollows of her hips.

"Oh Perrin, please. Please!" Perrin was too far down now for Scully to be able to thrust against her. She was at Perrin's mercy and on her timetable.

"Almost there, Dana," Perrin promised as she began tracing the crease where thigh meets body with her tongue. She sucked hard on the skin of Scully's inner thigh, this time wanting to leave a mark. When she succeeded, she raised her eyes to meet Scully's. "I've branded you," she said. "In this part of the country that means you're mine."

"Yes," Scully whimpered. "I'm yours. Please. Please!!"

Perrin growled in victory and pushed her tongue into Scully's opening, thrusting in and out, keeping it as rigid as possible.

"Yes, yes. Oh please!" Scully barely knew what she was begging for, only that whatever it was, Perrin had the power to give it.

Perrin relaxed her tongue and brought it up to Scully's clit and licked it like it was ice cream on a hot summer day. She swirled her tongue around it, finding the secret places hidden by her labia, only to return to her most sensitive nub again and again. It was enough.

Scully screamed and Perrin held on for dear life as Scully thrashed and bucked wildly against her.

But she held on, allowing Scully to enjoy each contraction, each twitch, until there were no more.

Scully lay, boneless and sated and unable to move.

Perrin dropped her head on Scully's thigh, resting, a small smile on her face as she breathed in the musk of Scully's sexuality.

Finally, Scully reached down and touched Perrin's hair. "There are no words for that. Please come up here."

Perrin crawled up Scully's body and once again kissed her deeply and thoroughly.

"I know I won't be anywhere near as good as you are, but I want to do to you what you've just done to me."

"Dana, you've already made me the happiest woman in Jack County, anything else is just icing on the cake."

"Then I want to ice your cake," Scully said huskily.

Perrin groaned and rolled over on her back so Scully could get up.

Scully turned over and gently kissed Perrin, running her fingers through her hair. "No one's ever made love to me like that before."

"It was my pleasure," Perrin grinned.

"I want to please you, too."

"You do please me, chica," Perrin said seriously.

Scully smiled slightly and knew she would get no further instructions from Perrin. She kissed her again on the mouth, this time intensifying it and Perrin moaned her approval. Scully knew Perrin would be happy with whatever she gave her, but she wanted it to be good for her too. Being a doctor she was at ease with the human body, so she made up her mind to do to Perrin what felt good to her.

Perrin was wound up tighter than an old broken watch and she knew Scully wouldn't have to do much to bring her off. That was a good thing, she thought. It would help Dana's confidence in this new situation.

So, she wasn't quite prepared when Scully's mouth captured one nipple as her fingers expertly tweaked the other.

"MMMMmmmm, oh God, that feels good!"

Scully worked on Perrin's breasts, quickly bringing her to a fever pitch.

"Dana."

Scully kept teasing Perrin's breasts, feeling a rush of power, relishing Perrin's arousal.

"Dana!"

"Hmmm?" She began slowly licking down Perrin's stomach.

"Dana, please! You're driving me crazy!"

"That was my intention," she murmured as she continued her way down.

Perrin made a strangled cry and knew she was only moments away from one of the most mind-blowing orgasms of her life. If Dana would just touch her....

She felt Scully's hot breath on her an endless, eternal moment before her tongue came out and tentatively tasted her. Apparently happy with what she found, Perrin felt Scully dive into her wholeheartedly, alternately sucking lightly then stroking up and down over her.

That was all it took. Perrin tried not to thrust too wildly against Scully's face, but she found it impossible not to as her body overwhelmed her mind and sought its satisfacton.

Scully was thrilled. She held on and rode the waves with Perrin, delighted to have been able to reciprocate.

Spent, finally, the muscles in her pelvis still twitching occasionally, Perrin said, "I've died and gone to heaven." She shook her head at Scully, still lying between her legs. "Wow."

Scully smiled at her and Perrin pulled her up for a weak kiss.

"I need to rest."

Scully snuggled up against Perrin, her head on her shoulder, their legs still entertwined, and they dozed off in the fading light of the afternoon.

********************************************************************

The scream brought Perrin bounding to her feet. She grabbed her t-shirt as she ran to her bedroom window.

"ANTONIO! PERRIN! COME QUICKLY!"

"What's happening?" Scully asked as she too got out of bed, grabbing her clothes.

"ANTONIO! PERRIN!"

"I don't know." Perrin got her t-shirt pulled over her head just as she reached the window. Opening it, she saw Rosa standing over someone lying on the ground.

"ROSA!" Perrin yelled, trying to get her attention. "What is it?"

The woman was clearly terrified. "It's Juan!"

Just at that moment Antonio came running up and saw Juan lying at his wife's feet. "Madre de Dios!" he said softly in shocked horror.

Perrin wheeled around, throwing on the rest of her clothes just as Scully finished getting dressed.

"Something's happened to Juan. C'mon." She and Scully raced down the stairs and outside.

Neither were prepared for what they saw. Juan Padilla was covered with huge oozing tumors.

Scully dropped to her knees beside him and searched for a pulse, although she didn't expect to find one.

Rosa was crying and praying simultaneously. Perrin noticed Rosa's children were coming to see what the commotion was about.

"Rosa! Go get your kids! Don't let them come over here," Perrin instructed. Rosa needed to get away from the horror and Perrin certainly didn't want the children seeing Juan's body. "Antonio, call Sheriff Bonner and tell him what's happened. Where's Ricky?"

"He's in town buying feed," he said slowly, unable to take his eyes off Juan. "Perrin?"

"Go, Antonio. Go call the sheriff."

Antonio nodded his head and trotted after his wife and children, helping Rosa herd their kids back into the house.

"What happened to him, Dana?"

Scully was still kneeling by Juan, examining his body. "I don't know how this happened, but this is like massive, endstage cancer in someone who's had no treatment. The tumors have broken through the skin. I've never seen anyone covered with this many tumors though. I'll have to do an autopsy to be sure."

"Dana, he was fine this morning. He's the one who saddled up Concho and Libby for us." Unshed tears shimmered in Perrin's eyes. "What is going on around here?"

"I don't know." Scully stood and wrapped her arms around Perrin, comforting the taller woman. "But I'm going to find out. We need to talk to Father Junger again."

Perrin nodded, thankful she had Dana to lean on. She returned Scully's embrace gratefully, welcoming her comfort. "Thank God you're here." She allowed herself to forget the horror for a brief moment in the protective circle of Dana's arms. Strengthened by Dana's presence, she continued, "As soon as we talk to the sheriff we'll go back to Windthorst. I think I should tell everyone to leave the ranch until we know it's safe."

"Yes. You need to get everyone out of here."

*********************************************************************

Windthorst, Texas

Father Junger invited Perrin and Scully into his study. "I've been researching this all afternoon and wanted to confirm my initial suspicions on what it was."

"Father, Juan Padilla was killed this afternoon on the ranch," Perrin informed him.

"No! What happened?"

Perrin looked to Scully to explain Juan's terrible death.

"He was covered in tumors. I'll have to do an autopsy to confirm the cause of death, but there's not much doubt."

"Oh, no," Father Junger shook his head. "It's not safe on the ranch. You have to tell everyone to get out."

"Already done," Perrin said.

"Do you know if Jim had a particular fear of drowning?"

"As a matter of fact, he did. His wife, Beth, was especially upset because he had died that way. She kept asking me why, if he had to die, it had to be in a way that frightened him so."

Father Junger nodded his head. "This adds confirmation to what I've found in my research."

"What have you discovered?" Scully asked.

"Jim must have found the amulet and opened it. When he did, he released Baelaroth, the so called Demon of Horrible Death."

"A demon?" Perrin asked, incredulous. "You mean like a hellfire and brimstone, buddies with Satan kind of demon?"

"That's exactly what I mean," Father Junger confirmed. "The amulet you found is old. At this point, I'm not sure how old, but a thousand years at least. The earliest references are vague, but the first mention I found of the demon was around the time of the apostles. I believe the amulet was created later. The only good thing about it is that Baelaroth is a territorial demon, meaning he can travel only so far from wherever he is set loose."

"So," Scully said, "You're saying that Jim Tracy found some thousand-years-old amulet that held a demon from the time of Christ on Perrin's ranch?"

"Yes. We'll likely never know for sure how it came to Texas, but the most likely explanation is that it was brought by the Spaniards and deliberately left here."

"Why?" Perrin asked. "Why would they leave something so dangerous just laying around?"

"First off," Father Junger answered, "they probably buried it. Jim was found by the pond where Agent Scully discovered the amulet. Probably whenever the pond was dug the amulet was brought near the surface and time and erosion did the rest. Secondly, as to the why, it's a well-kept Church secret that the Church disposed of dangerous artifacts in the New World in the same manner as the European countries sent their criminals and heretics over here. To get rid of them and make their own homes safer."

"But Father Junger, a demon?" Scully said, shaking her head.

Father Junger nodded. "I see you wear a cross," he said to Scully. "If you believe in God, is it such a stretch to believe also in evil? Baelaroth was believed to have the ability to cause someone to die in the way they most feared." He turned his eyes to Perrin, "You said Jim was afraid of drowning. I know Juan was frightened of cancer. His father died of it two years ago, and he told me once that he thought it was the worse way to die."

"So you think Trinity was afraid of fire and Tanya was scared of falling?" Perrin asked.

"Yes. There's some evidence - very scant - but some evidence that Baelaroth's power resides in your belief that what you _think_ is happening to you, is actually happening to you."

"So you have to believe it's real," said Scully.

"Perhaps. As I said, there's not much to go on. The demon could have the power to kill you whether you believe or not."

"What do we do?" asked Perrin.

"We go back," Father Junger looked at both women in turn, "and force Baelaroth back into the amulet where he can do no more harm."

********************************************************************

Venture Motel - Jacksboro Texas

Perrin listened to Scully's half of the conversation as she brought Mulder up to date on the case. After Scully hung up, Perrin said, "Dana, could Father Junger be right? Could it really be a demon that's killing these people?"

"I don't know. The human mind is capable of creating images so intense that it could possibly effect the injuries presented. An example would be a curse, which works because the person believes it will. People have been known to die by believing they have been cursed."

"But none of these people believed in curses."

Scully shrugged. "Demon or curse, either explanation seems improbable. But I've seen some things over the years that I thought were impossible." Scully shook her head and looked at Perrin. "I just don't know," she repeated.

"Well, I know something," Perrin said.

"What?"

"I know I would have completely lost it by now if it weren't for you."

"Somehow I doubt that."

Perrin held her arms open. "C'mere," she said softly.

Scully walked into her arms and they held each other tightly. "I was so happy this afternoon," Perrin said. "I wanted to slowly wake up from our nap with you in my arms. Not wake up to Rosa screaming and discovering that Juan is dead."

"I know."

They continued to hold each other, rocking slightly, comforting one another.

"Will you take a shower with me?" Perrin asked. "I need one, but I don't want to be alone."

Scully nodded. "Yes."

They walked hand-in-hand into the small motel bathroom and Perrin turned on the water, adjusting the temperature. Turning back to face Scully they silently watched each other undress.

Scully took Perrin's hand and they stepped into the shower together. Perrin backed under the shower nozzle, tilting her head and closing her eyes as she let the water run over her hair and down her body. Scully watched, relishing the opportunity to look at Perrin unobserved. So beautiful...those dark eyelashes laying on her cheeks, those strong arms, those exquisite breasts....I haven't felt this smitten with anyone in a long, long time. But am I ready for this?

Perrin straightened up and opened her eyes. "Your turn."

Scully stepped under the stream of water enjoying the feel of the warm water on her sore muscles. Perrin, meanwhile, grabbed the soap and began to quickly wash herself.

When Scully stepped away from the water Perrin asked, "May I wash you? No funny stuff. I just want to touch you."

Scully nodded and Perrin lathered up the washcloth thoroughly.

"Turn around," Perrin instructed. "I'll do your back first."

Scully turned and she felt the washcloth being rubbed along one shoulder while Perrin's other hand began kneading the muscles on the other.

"MMmmm, that feels good," Scully said.

"You weren't joking about being a little sore, were you?"

"No, that was true."

"Here, hold the washcloth a minute."

Scully took it and Perrin began massaging her back with both hands, her strong fingers gliding easily over her soapy skin, relaxing Scully's tense and sore muscles.

Scully groaned in appreciation.

"You better not make noises like that or I may not be able to keep my word," Perrin warned.

Scully let out a little huff of amusement, "Massages aren't better than sex, but they're a close second."

"I agree with you there." Perrin leaned forward and whispered in Scully's ear, "Sometime I'll have to give you my de-luxe, special massage that combines the two."

Perrin's warm breath and delicious promise caused a shiver to run over Scully. "Perrin, what you do to me."

"What I do to you? Dana..." Perrin turned Scully around and searched her eyes. "I'm almost afraid to say anything for fear I'll jinx everything, but I've never fallen so hard for someone as I have for you. I want you in my life." Perrin saw the wall go up in Scully's face. Pulling back, she said, "I'm sorry. I've said too much. That was stupid, stupid, stupid!"

Scully grabbed her hands, "No! It wasn't stupid. It's me. I'm still dealing with the newness of this."

"I know. We need to talk. Let's get out of here before we turn into prunes."

Scully nodded and they both quickly finished cleaning up and got out of the shower.

After toweling off, Scully reached for her nightgown and Perrin stopped her. "Tonight may be all we have. Please, I want your skin against mine."

They crawled into the motel bed and snuggled up against each other.

"Have you always known you were gay?" Scully asked softly.

"Well, not as a little girl of course, but I never liked boys except as friends. Never as romantic partners. All of my fantasies were about girls and all of my crushes were on girls. It took me awhile to actually realize it - that it wasn't just some phase I was going through. That's what my dad always thought. He thought it was because I grew up around nothing but men and I just hadn't realized I was a girl. I tried for awhile to sleep with men, but for me it was awful. All I ever wanted in my bed was another woman. I love women because I love women, not because the right man hasn't come along."

"I've never thought of myself as anything but heterosexual. But being with you is so wonderful..." Scully paused and looked into Perrin's eyes. "I'm still...unsure about all that's happened. If you were a guy.... But this is all new to me. I need some time to think."

"I know. I don't mean to pressure you. Whatever happens next is up to you. For me, there was no choice." Perrin held Scully close and lightly placed a kiss on her hair. "Besides, look on the bright side. We may die tomorrow and then it won't matter."

"Who wants to live forever?" Scully countered. But she held on to Perrin tightly as they both drifted off to troubled sleep.

*********************************************************************

Double S Ranch 9 AM

"I have no idea if this will work. Casting out demons is not an uncommon ceremony, but trying to capture one in something is almost unheard of."

Perrin and Scully watched nervously as Father Junger set the amulet, a crucifix and holy water on a picnic table in Perrin's yard.

"Demons aren't omnipotent or omniscient, so I'm hoping we have the element of surprise on our side. I will call him here. From that point on the risk is very great. I've written out what to say. If I go down, one of you will have to finish. I know if it falls on you, Perrin, you won't know what you're saying. But that's immaterial. Baelaroth will know." Father Junger looked at both of them. "If you find yourself in his grip, try to remember whatever vision you're seeing is not real."

Scully and Perrin both nodded at the priest.

"Let's do it," said Scully.

Father Junger opened the amulet and set it back on the table and picked up the crucifix. Scully and Perrin stood nearby as he began reading the Latin ceremonial words.

At first, all was calm. Perrin could understand nothing Father Junger said except the occasional "Baelaroth." She spoke softly to Scully. "This isn't work--" Suddenly, she dropped to the ground, crying out.

"Perrin!" Scully shouted as she knelt down beside her. She looked like she had aged 50 years. She was lying on her side, legs drawn up in a slightly fetal position. Her eyes were closed and she had tears streaming across her wrinkled, weathered cheeks. She was rocking slightly and seemed to be murmuring something.

Father Junger's voice rose, calling the demon.

"Perrin!" Scully shook her shoulder. "Open your eyes!" she commanded. "This isn't real! Open your eyes! Perrin!" Oh my God, this can't be happening. "PERRIN!"

Tears continued to leak from Perrin's eyelids. "...alone...all alone."

Scully turned Perrin on her back so she could grasp both shoulders. "PERRIN!" she screamed. "Open your eyes! It's not real!" She shook her hard, becoming desperate. "Don't you dare die on me! Please! I can't lose you...Perrin!"

Perrin's eyes fluttered open, unfocused.

"Perrin, look at me!" Scully ordered. "Look at me, now!"

Perrin's watery green eyes swam into focus. "Dana?"

Father Junger continued with the incantation, his voice louder and louder, roaring with authority.

Perrin screamed and Scully felt a chill down to her bones rush through her. Before she could react to the demon's passage, she heard Father Junger's voice rise in panic.

"No!" He looked down in horror as his body swelled to unbelievable proportions right before his eyes, the crucifix and the paper he was reading from slipping unnoticed from his fingers.

"Perrin, come on!" Scully urged the still stunned, but young again looking woman to her feet. "We have to take over." She pulled Perrin over to Father Junger and grabbed the crucifix and pad of paper off of the ground. "Talk to him! Tell him it's not real!"

Perrin, her confusion clearing, called to the priest as Scully began reading from the paper Father Junger had dropped.

Afraid to start all of the way at the beginning, but hoping she wasn't skipping anything, she read on loudly.

"Father!" Perrin screamed. "It's not real! Fight it!"

Father Junger moaned in agony, so swollen it seemed impossible his skin hadn't split open from the pressure.

"Father, please!" Perrin cried, shaking him.

Scully kept reading despite her urge to go to the priest, knowing their only hope was in re-capturing the demon.

Suddenly, there was a shriek so loud and high-pitched both Scully and Perrin had to cover their ears. The amulet began to spin crazily on the table. In that frozen moment of time, Scully saw Father Junger coming around, back to his normal size. As the unholy scream faded she slammed the amulet shut.

The three of them stood in the sudden silence, each trying to catch their breath, warily looking around.

"We did it!" Father Junger boomed. He went to the table and began reciting a prayer over the amulet before anointing the locking mechanism with holy water.

"Is that it? It's back in there? It's over?" Perrin asked.

"Yes," he answered and smiled. "The good guys won."

********************************************************************

Double S Ranch Noon

"So that's it, Mulder," Scully spoke into the phone. "Father Junger took the amulet with him intending to return it to the Church."

"Here's hoping they don't bury it in someone else's yard again," Mulder replied. "So what did the swelling mean in Father Junger? What was his fear?"

"His grandmother had died when he was a child with kidney failure. It was before dialysis and he saw her balloon up with the fluids her body couldn't eliminate. He watched her suffer terribly before she died and believed she had endured the cruelest death possible, drowning in her own waste."

"I can't wait to read your report. How are you going to explain this one, Scully? The dreaded 'agents unknown'?"

"That's the one, Mulder. You know me so well," she said, smiling.

"So, are you flying back tonight?"

"No, I plan to take a vacation day tomorrow and enjoy a long weekend. I'm going to stay in Texas a couple more days."

"Don't do anything I wouldn't enjoy."

"That's my creed, Mulder. See you when I get back."

Scully hung up the phone and went into the kitchen where Perrin stood at the counter making sandwiches. Scully walked up behind her and put her arms around her waist, hugging her. She laid her head on Perrin's shoulder.

Perrin turned in Scully's arms, hugging her fiercely. "Oh chica, what a morning. I would never have made it without you."

"C'mon," Scully said. "Let's go talk."

Scully led Perrin up the stairs to her bedroom. When they arrived, Scully closed the door and began unbuttoning Perrin's shirt.

"I thought you wanted to talk," Perrin said with a smile.

"I do. I just want to be very close to you while I do," Scully said, returning the smile.

Perrin let Scully undress her, her heart thudding in her chest. Remembering what Dana had said the evening before, she experienced the bittersweet conflict of wanting her terribly but dreading the loss when the inevitable goodbye came.

"Dana."

"Shh," Scully said, touching her finger to Perrin's lips. "We'll talk in a minute. I seem to be overdressed."

Taking the cue, Perrin began undressing Scully. As each article of clothing disappeared she kissed the exposed skin, her arousal beginning to overpower her fear that this was goodbye. Dropping to her knees she pulled off Scully's pants, dragging her mouth down one leg and back up the other. When she reached the vee of Scully's legs, she pushed them apart, planting her open mouth over her, inhaling her scent, stroking her clit through the thin fabric of her panties.

"Oh God, Perrin, I can't do this standing up. My legs are too weak."

Keeping her mouth firmly against her, Perrin brought her arms from behind Scully to between her legs. With her hands supporting Scully's lower back, she picked her up, lifting her onto the bed. Scully's legs slid up so her knees were on the outside of Perrin's arms, spreading her further. "Dana..." Perrin breathed.

"Perrin, as much as I hate to say it, stop a minute."

Scully's flushed face and quickened breathing were proof of that truth. She lifted Perrin's head to look at her. "Come up here. I really do want to talk."

"Mmmhp," Perrin groaned, anguished over what she feared was coming. "Dana, I know what you're going to say...."

"So now you're psychic. C'mere." She pulled until Perrin scooted up even with her. Scully pushed Perrin back until she could lie on top of her. "This morning, you nearly died."

"I know," Perrin said softly.

"Father Junger talked about his experience, but you haven't said a word. Do you remember it?"

"I don't want to talk about it." The beginning of tears glistened in her eyes.

"I think you should." When Perrin said nothing, Scully continued. "You were old and alone."

Perrin looked at her sharply.

"You were talking."

"Oh, no." She closed her eyes, unable to face Scully. Afraid she would see pity. "That's always been my biggest fear. That I will die here, old and alone."

Scully said nothing, sensing Perrin's need to keep talking.

"I don't have much opportunity to meet anyone," she gave a mirthless chuckle and opened her eyes. "And then you came." She reached up and ran her fingers over Scully's hair. "You are everything I ever wanted. I fell head over heels for a straight girl."

Scully's heart was breaking. She understood all too well Perrin's loneliness. "How many straight girls have you been to bed with?"

"None before you. Straight girls don't usually go to bed with other women."

"I told you last night that I had always considered myself hetero, and that's true. But I never seriously considered the alternative. This morning, when I thought you were dying, I couldn't bear it. I realized that even though we've only known each other a few days, I want you in my life, too."

"Are you serious?" Perrin asked, afraid to believe it without being sure.

"Deadly serious, Ms. Stockard." She lowered her mouth to Perrin's. The kiss, gentle for a nanosecond, became fierce as Perrin realized what Scully was saying.

"Oh, chica!" Perrin exclaimed as she came up for air and turned them back over again. She studied Scully's face, her heart rapturous. Afraid to say the words racing through her mind, she set out to show Scully instead. She covered Scully's luscious lips with her own, nibbling and sucking, teasing and tantalizing.

She raised up just enough to brush her nipples against Scully's. Their nipples stiffened at the teasing contact and both women moaned at the sensation.

"Dana," Perrin said softly as she began to rock against her. "I have to get your panties off." She raised up enough to pull off Scully's remaining garment, then lowered her body back on top of her. "I want you so much." She tangled her fingers in Scully's hair as she began to outline her ear with her tongue. Scully's sharp intake of breath told Perrin she was on the right track. "You're so beautiful and brilliant and brave and incredibly sexy," she whispered. She gently penetrated Scully's ear with her tongue and Scully moaned her approval, grinding against her. "Mmmm, I'm not going to last long if you do that," Perrin warned.

"Good," Scully teased. "It's not fair for me to suffer alone."

"Oh, suffering are you? I'll show you suffering." Perrin dropped her mouth to Scully's neck, nipping and lightly sucking, teasing her unmercifully. When Scully raised a hand to Perrin's face she captured Scully's hand and traced circles with her tongue on her palm, watching Dana's reaction. "I want to make love to every inch of you."

"Oh God, I want you to, too. No one's ever made me feel like you do. So aroused... so loved... so beautiful."

"Dana," Perrin whispered. She brought her mouth back to Scully's, kissing her deeply, lost in the beautiful arousal of the woman beneath her, "seeing you like this...." Perrin dipped her head and caught a nipple between her teeth and bit lightly.

"Oh, Perrin!" Scully arched up against her, spreading her legs wider. "Please touch me."

"MMMmmm," Perrin groaned. Incapable of denying Scully's request, she dropped her hand between Dana's legs. "God, you're so wet." Perrin's own body rocked in recognition and desire against Scully's.

"See where you branded me?" Scully asked as she pointed out the mark. "I am yours." Scully and Perrin looked at one another for a long moment, each taking in the significance of Scully's words.

"I love you." Perrin murmured as she slipped two fingers into Scully. She began pushing them in and out, bringing her thumb up to graze her clit with each thrust. She lowered her mouth back to Scully's breast, reclaiming her nipple. Licking turned to pinching, which turned to gentle biting, as Scully's arousal intensified. Perrin curled up the fingers that were inside Scully until she heard Dana's sharp intake of breath and felt her lurch against her. "Yeah," Perrin growled, right there."

"Yes! Don't stop!

"Never." Perrin promised as she bit down a little harder on Scully's nipple. At the same time she added a bit more pressure to her clit, thrusting against her more forcefully.

Perrin's own arousal had kept pace with Scully's, and she realized as she rubbed against her, that as improbable as it seemed, they could come together.

"Now!" Scully screamed as she bucked hard against Perrin's hand.

"Oh God!" Perrin moaned. The taste and texture of Scully's breast, the sensation of her fingers being trapped and milked in Scully's velvet softness by the gently contracting muscles, was too much. Perrin slid over the edge, coming with her.

They thrust hard against each other, their voices blended into a harmony of delight as they rode out the waves of pleasure.

At rest, finally, Perrin raised her eyes to Scully's. "Dana," she whispered, "I'm going to always want this."

Scully tenderly kissed Perrin. "Me, too," she said softly, "but I can't stay here. I have to go back to Washington."

"I know. I want you to stay, but I know you can't. You won't."

"I'll be back. I get lots of vacation days. And you're not exactly Miss Destitute. You could come see me."

Perrin smiled. "Yes, I could. I'll have to hire a couple of new hands, but Antonio is perfectly capable of running the ranch. For a little while, at least. I can't let him think I'm not needed."

Scully smiled at her, "Lady, you are very needed. Like, right now, I need you to kiss me, and I need you to touch me, and I need..."

Perrin interrupted her with a kiss that held the promise to meet all of their needs.

END

********************************************************************

AUTHOR'S NOTE: In case you're wondering, Windthorst, Jacksboro, Perrin and Antelope are all real Texas towns. All of the X-File, however, was from my imagination. Well, not the Catholic Church, but everything else. <g>

A note to my fellow Texans: I know we don't call stock tanks, "ponds", but beta readers in a previous story didn't have a clue to what I was referring to, so I wanted make it clear.

And finally, if you enjoyed this story, tell me. If there are things I could improve, tell me. And if you want more stories in this universe, tell me.

I'm at glacy1@ix.netcom.com or Selena1782@aol.com.